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NAMI brings relief to family caregivers of the mentally ill

Special Correspondent

SUN CITY CENTER – Caring for emotionally or mentally ill adult family members within the home can cause a multitude of issues for related caregivers. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides support, education, and resources to help families deal on a daily basis with the challenges.

According to NAMI, one in four people will face mental illness this year and one in 17 family members will be affected.

Many families in Hillsborough County support parents or grown children with emotional or mental issues, said Karen Fredericks, member of the SCC NAMI Advisory Committee board of directors. The strain and frustration of how to care for them increases as the caregiver becomes less able to provide for all their needs. And insurance restrictions often eliminate the possibility of alternative housing.

In June an advisory committee of eight came together to focus on Sun City Center residents who need help. Its members set up their own 501(c) 3 to enable them to seek grants specifically benefiting members of the community. As a nonprofit organization, the SCC chapter is solely dependent on these grants and private donations.

“We are the navigators of information to the families,” Fredericks said. “We are very much into empowerment. Through the power of voices, improvements are happening.”

The NAMI advisory committee meets every third Wednesday of the month at the Sun City Center Atrium, 945 North Course Lane, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. It provides free information on available services to caregivers seeking help to make their lives more manageable.

On the third Thursday of every month a free, educational forum is held at the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. In the forum, trained NAMI professionals actually listen to problems discussed by attendees and provide options for coping with anger, guilt or resentment and help with understanding mental illness.

Additionally, the NAMI Hillsborough Alliance conducts a free family-to-family, 12-week training seminar to guide families on dealing with day-to-day issues in the home. There is a $25 charge for the manual and reference materials. The training seminar is conducted in Tampa and specific dates can be found on NAMI Hillsborough’s Facebook page.

Harriet Shetler and Beverly Young founded the National Alliance on Mental Illness in 1979. Two mothers faced with the frustration of caring for mentally ill family members, with no apparent help and nowhere to turn, they took matters into their own hands. Today every member of the all-volunteer alliance is dedicated to their motto “You are not alone.”

All folks need do is ask.

“Peer-to-peer training, family-to-family training and 24-hour support is what we are all about,” Fredericks said.

For additional information, email [email protected], visit www.namihillsborough.org or NAMI Hillsborough on Facebook or call Fredericks at (914) 469-2323.

Dosi Loverro is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]

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